Amid calls for crackdown on dirt bikes, others suggest a safe outlet for bikers

Charles Molineaux
Updated: May 04, 2021 11:13 PM
Created: May 04, 2021 10:38 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As Rochester area communities struggled with swarms of illegal dirt bikes, mini bikes and ATVs on local streets, local officials sought input from some of the bikers and tossed around one proposed solution, a special space just for them.

“It’s freedom. Freedom is—just—it helps with everything,” biker Raheim Drisdom said in an online forum Tuesday night.

With the city and Monroe County considering measures to crack down on illegal vehicles on local streets, riders talked about their love for their machines in an online meeting with Rochester state Assemblyman Demond Meeks and Mayor Lovely Warren.

“This is a lifestyle. That’s why they call it bike life,” rider Lorenzo Jones said. “This is something that’s never going to leave us. Til the day we die.”

“There are times when I’ve seen some unsafe activity and really was literally scared for whoever is riding the bike,” exclaimed the mayor.

The riders took a dim view of proposed legislation to impose tough fines on illegal bikers and confiscate bikes, as well as on the launch of a new multi-agency task force involving Rochester, Irondequoit and Greece Police as well as the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to stop the swarms of illegal vehicles. 

“It’s that they targeted us in the wrong way by calling us criminals, and dangerous,” Drisdom said. “You made a task force like we robbed a bank.”

But Meeks and the bikers both enthusiastically seized on the idea of following the example of Rochester’s skateboard park and creating a space for dirt bikes to ride.

Some have even picked possible locations, like one property off Gunnison Street, or another off Mt. Read Boulevard on the west side of town.

“This is the time to really put the plan together,” Warren said. “I can tell you the city would be willing to work with you guys. Our biggest goal is that you’re safe.”

“Do you think that we could get the masses of those who are riding to commit to. that particular space?“ Meeks asked the bikers.

“Yes, I would say yes. That would be great for the city,” Jones replied.  

Mayor Warren pointed out that the skate park took close to a decade to happen but says now may be the time to try something similar for bikers, with new infusions of federal money likely coming to Rochester.

Meeks says he sees a solution, and some kind of cooperation from the bikers… as urgent.

“One of you young men will be chased by the police and end in one’s death,” he said. “We know there are accidents.”

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